ATLETA Fitness

Exercise During Pregnancy – How to Train Safe

The thought of carrying a new life into the world is about as exciting as it gets! Despite the joys of pregnancy, however, there are always unavoidable difficulties and changes that result from this happy time.

Contrary to general perception though, your health doesn’t need to change too far from your pre-pregnancy level. Maintaining an active lifestyle and exercising during pregnancy has many benefits for expectant mothers, provided the recommended guidelines are adhered to and personal limitations are noted.

Why is exercise good for you during pregnancy?Workout during pregnancy

Maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle has numerous benefits, irrespective of your level of health. Keeping (or getting) active during pregnancy has a host of accompanying benefits, the best of which being the improved sense of physical and mental well-being so often attributed to regular exercise. Exercise can help you feel great, both mentally and physically, throughout the duration of your pregnancy. Furthermore, the fitness benefits and weight maintenance that exercise offers to pregnant women ‘sweetens the deal’, as such. Regular exercise throughout your term can help stave off the excess weight gain associated with pregnancy, and keep your heart and muscles working and healthy.

Another major benefit of exercise is a reduction to the risk of gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes can occur during pregnancy if health and well-being is not well-maintained. Keeping active improves the body’s insulin sensitivity, as well as acting as a protective factor against excessive weight gain and fitness loss; two large predicators of gestational diabetes onset.

Exercise Recommendations during Pregnancy:

Exercise should be an integral part of everyone’s lifestyle. It has long been known that ‘exercise is medicine’, and hence the inclusion of 150 minutes (or more) each week of moderate intensity exercise is recommended for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Exercise recommendations during pregnancy mirror those suggested for general populations, which is 5-7 days per week of 30 minutes or more moderate intensity exercise. A moderate intensity reflects an intensity at which you can still talk somewhat comfortably during exercise. Particularly during pregnancy, it is not recommended to exercise above the ‘talk test’ point – which is to say if you can’t hold a conversation while exercising you are likely exercising t a higher intensity than is recommended.Happy-pregnant-woman-with-arms-outstretched-enjoying-sunlight-at-field

Exercise modality during pregnancy should consist of weight and non-weight bearing cardio and resistance exercises. Walking, jogging, running, cycling, swimming and higher repetition resistance training are commonly recommended as exercise modalities for pregnant women. Resistance training should be done with lighter weights and higher reps, so as not to spike blood pressure or overly strain muscles. For those who were active pre-pregnancy, the continuation of your usual routine is fine, provided intensity is limited to that moderate level (think talk-test again). For those only getting active during pregnancy, it is important to progress slowly, and starting with stationary cycling, walking, aquarobics or light swimming is the best starting point. Any exercise is better than none.

Despite the recommendation of exercise for pregnant populations, there are some contraindications and exercise guidelines detailing exercises that are not recommended for pregnancy.

Contraindications to Exercise during pregnancy:

It is important to be wary when exercising during pregnancy. Exercises that should be avoided during pregnancy include:

• Heavy weights training
• Sharp movements (after the first trimester)
• Lying prone (after the first trimester)
• Strenuous agility, jumping and/or speed work
• Contact or adventure sports
• Working at a heart rate greater than 75% of your age predicted max (220-age)
• Exercising in conditions of high heat or humidity
• Exercising or enjoying leisure in areas of low oxygen content (such as scuba diving, or at high altitude)

All of these exercise modalities can negatively impact on the health of you and your unborn baby, due to the high stresses they place on your body and the large movement demands that can upset internal structures during this delicate time.

Furthermore, there are a plethora of signs to be aware of, which if spotted should result in the cessation of exercise and a consultation with your doctor. Signs and symptoms to be wary of include:

• Abnormal feelings, including sudden nausea or dizziness
• Excessive fatigue and shortness of breath post or during exercise
• Irregular breathing pre or post exercise
• Abnormal uterus and/or foetal feelings, during or post exercise
• Discharge, including clear fluid or bloodyoga-healthly-pregnancy

Overall, however, exercise should play an integral part in maintaining your health and well-being throughout the duration of your pregnancy. Keeping an active lifestyle can improve your health, fitness and mental well-being, as well as improving the health of the little one within. It is important, however, to consult with an expert before engaging in an exercise program during pregnancy. Get in contact with one of our qualified team to book a consultation appointment today, and get moving towards your best level of health.

Written by Johann Ruys

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2 Responses

  1. Lou says:

    This is me at the moment, still exercising at least 3 times a week. I’m 21 weeks at present, I feel good after gym. I’ll be showing my dad this article as he doesn’t believe I should be exercising. Good article 😊

    • Neil Russell says:

      Hi Louise, congratulations! That’s awesome, I have a few friends and clients who are at a similar stage in their pregnancy. Keep up the great work and listen to your body as you go. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions as you move into your 3rd trimester. All the best.

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